Historic County Church Named to National Register of Historic Places


Mt. Pleasant ChurchMt. Pleasant United Methodist Church, 2382 Wright Road, Caledonia, MS. was listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. National Park Service, Department of the Interior, on July 5, 2007. The National Register is part of a nationwide program to support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect our nation's historic resources.

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church is located 10 miles northeast of Columbus, Mississippi, off Miss. Hwy. 12 and the Caledonia-Steens road on Wright road and has been known by various names such as Vaughn's Campground, Vaughn's Church, Pleasant Grove and Mt. Pleasant as it is officially recorded in the Deed of May 14, 1833.

This historic Church is located in the northeast area of (now) Lowndes County, Ms. where the first land was opened for settlement under the Chickasaw and Choctaw Treaties of 1816. In fact, two of the oldest houses in Lowndes Co, Ms. that stand today are located near Mt. Pleasant Church; "Woodlawn" (aka Kidd's Tavern) on Highway 12 North and "Belmont" on Neilson Road. Both houses were built in the 1820s. According to Dr. W.L. Lipscomb in his manuscript, A History of Columbus, Mississippi during the 19th Century, published in 1909, "In 1826-1827 a large number of settlers moved into the section of land between the Luxapalila and Yellow Creeks. They were generally Methodist and in 1828 organized the first Methodist Church in Lowndes County known as Piney Grove Church." Tabernacle Methodist Church near the Alabama-Mississippi line was also organized in the same time frame. Mt. Pleasant was an outgrowth of Piney Grove Methodist Church and began as a campground north of Wright's road between 1828 and 1833.

According to the recorded Deed of Lowndes County, Mississippi, dated May 14, 1833, James Vaughn and his wife, Susannah Vaughn, sold 5.56 acres and the existing Church meeting house and graveyard for $1.00 to the Trustees of a Methodist church known as Mt. Pleasant. The original Trustees were Robert Shotwell, Capt. William Walker Neilson, Capt. Edward Randolph, John Vaughn and James Weems. It is written by Dr. Lipscomb that Capt. William Neilson, one of the original settlers in the county, was converted to the Church after wandering into Vaughn's Campground while looking for his cattle that he thought had been stolen by Indians. The Rev. George Shaeffer was preaching at the time. A Church building existed at the time that James Vaughn sold the land to Mt. Pleasant Church in1833 as recorded in the Deed.

On October 8, 1851, Judge John Perkins, who descended from James Vaughn and resided in Louisiana, donated by Deed as recorded in the Lowndes Co, Ms. Courthouse five acres of land south of the first Church and cemetery site on Wright Road to the Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church for a Church meeting house and a schoolhouse. This is the site where Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church is now located. The original 5.56 acres given by the Vaughn family to the Church on May 14, 1833 remains as the present day Vaughns cemetery.

Based on research, there is evidence that a Church building was constructed in the 1854-1855 time frames on this new site but no information is available as to what happened to this Church building. During the research phase for nominating the Church for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, vital information on the age of the present Church building was found in the research papers of Agnes Robertson, Church Historian for many years, whose ancestors donated the land for the first Church and cemetery. This information revealed that a local Church builder, David Parker Tunnell, constructed the present Church building in the 1892 time frame. It is this third Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church building that is being recognized by listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

The present Church building is a rare and very intact example of Rural Carpenter Gothic style architecture from circa 1892 which is a front gabled structure with a steeply pitched roof, pointed-arch windows and a Gothic-arch window above the front entrance double doors. The exterior is sided with 6 inch exposed wood lap siding and the building rests on brick and sandstone pillars. The roof is standing "V" galvanized tin. The interior of the building is clad in beaded pine paneling and the apse bay is further evidence of the Rural Carpenter Gothic style of this period in America.

James Reeves, a Church Trustee, and other volunteers have accomplished Restoration of historic Mt. Pleasant Methodist Church. Work that began in the year 1999 to the present date includes placement of a new tin roof, addition of foundation support piers, the use of steel rods to tie the outer walls together to prevent separation of the floor, complete pressure washing of the exterior lap siding, caulking and painting. Both the exterior and interior of the Church remains virtually unchanged since it was built in 1892 and it has no electricity, water or heat.

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church was on the Caledonia Circuit of the North Mississippi Methodist Conference for many years with Church services held every 2nd and 4th Sundays. The Churches in this circuit included Piney Grove, Mt. Pleasant, Flint Hill and Caledonia. However, due to the deaths and moving away of members, the Church congregation became inactive around 1981. Currently, the Church is operated and maintained under the leadership of the Trustees and is now used for Homecoming each year on Mother's Day as well as for weddings and funerals.

Prepared By:
Harold E. Wright
Church Historian